Ten years ago on May 20th, 2001, I closed on the purchase of what is now known as the Silvanus Lodge. This is a ten year anniversary celebration. Many times I didn’t think it would last; that first year felt like a bad omen. However poor, the motel has managed to pay for itself and the improvements. There are no “before” pictures (so bad I didn’t want to remember) and the “after” is certainly better, and continues to improve.
In the last year I have drained the bank account to get it as far as I could for the May 20th anniversary. This years big project was the replacement of the windows on the south side of the building (facing lawn).
I can’t even bring myself to say how much it cost, but it was worth it. All windows and doors were replaced. The walls are nearly 100% new as it took a lot to get everything reconfigured. Three a/c units that were not cold enough were replaced, and still retained our “energy star” status. The windows are trimmed out so nicely that it is truly a work of craftsmanship. To crown it off, I have some pretty nice curtains… dark, heavy, red. They are fully lined to block light and increase energy savings. And… they look good (not just me saying… I have a few friends that are always honest and yet eager to reward me when I finally get something right). It was a good project. I’d give credit to the builder that helped, but he is truly an artist and I’m not sure that my motel is his normal gig. If you find that you are interested, I’ll tell you personally!
There were plenty of small projects as well. The county government changed their testing requirements for our water… we would have to test it monthly instead of quarterly unless we were willing to treat the water. So, here is the story: The well is 300 feet deep; the water has always tested pure – heavy in minerals (which is healthy), but perfect. Naturally the government has an interest in testing a public water supply – and my water is for public consumption, even if only for my guests. All good. To “treat” the water, I could have added a chemical system, but I do not care for any chemicals if I can avoid it. The solution turned out to be a UV light. The water travels across this swollen tube where a light shines on the water; as it flows through it cleans the water instantly. Nice trick… and safer than chemicals.
Some other projects were inspired by a horrible guest that ripped me a new one for a number of reasons (the nasty man on Trip Advisor that said I should be closed down). One problem was the sheets: and the fact is, they were old and it was time to replace them. While I don’t have Egyptian cotton (not a chance in hell of that…), I did significantly increase the quality. And new towels as well… rich, fat, thick towels that feel soft and comforting.
I spent a good six months working in the lobby. It was a very inexpensive project, but time consuming. It looks pretty good, and I did all of it myself. I’m getting to be a better carpenter as time goes on (still amateur status!!!).
The little apartment had a 50 year old fridge that I replaced. We thought about replacing the stove, but the cheap side of me can’t do it… it does not look so hot, but it works. That same ugly guest said the stove was dirty… but I assure you, there is a difference between “dirty” and “old”. We’ll just have to live with that for a while.
There were some other nice things done as well… we completely upgraded the cable TV system to the rooms. This meant ripping all the old cable out and installing new cable. The cable company provided the cable, but we had to have it wired ourselves. It was worth it. The signal is three times stronger. Even if guests don’t watch much TV, it is nice to have the weather channel. As the channels now come in clear, it was time to start buying some flat screen TVs. The motel now sports two 26″ flat screen TVs.
Also, we need to give some long over due credit. We have a guest named Ms. Taylor… she has the JLo butt (big), and she informed me how she trashed one of our old TVs (story retold with permission!). She said that she bent over and her back-side hit the TV — the TV then shot across the room like a rocket. The TV was hardly recognizable. Given that it was a very old TV and she is a great guest, I told her not to worry about it. But the next day when we went to clean up the room, there was a brand new 32″ flat screen TV all hooked up. It is no surprise as we generally have exceptional guests, but I admit, my faith in mankind is strengthened everytime I see the TV. Thanks Ms. Taylor.
So, maybe this is a good place to finish up the anniversary comments. It has been a long, but a good run – even if I am still poor. While the motel is 100 times better than when I bought it, it still has lots of rough edges. And somehow the guests seem to be grateful in spite of the amount of work that always needs to be done. I’m not sure I would have done this had I known what a slow process it would be, but I have grown and I am grateful. Happy Anniversary TO ME and to the Silvanus.